Considerations of applicants test scores, socio economic status, leadership skills, grades, geography, extracurricular activities, life experiences, and racial and ethnic background (and experiences that one might have as a result of that background) lead to a more diverse campus environment and better educational experiences for all students. The over 70 amicus briefs filers on behalf of the University from a wide range of groups such as military leaders, colleges and universities, social scientists, religious groups, civil rights organizations, women's groups, and many of America's largest companies all agree. I, too, agree with our nation's flagship universities and top-tier institutions that we must have the flexibility to consider all sides of an applicant for admissions.
Some think that university admissions should be decided solely on grades and test scores. They are certainly key factors to consider, but I think we all would agree that it is nonsensical to suggest that one's SAT score in high school should dictate how wide the gates of opportunity should be for the rest of one’s life. However, should the Supreme Court vote against the University of Texas in favor of Fisher, given persistent achievement gaps, even after controlling for family income, this is exactly what would happen. The ruling would make the student bodies of many colleges less diverse and cause the lives of those already attending the universities to be less enriching. Less exposure to diversity is not only an issue of racial understanding and about opening up the doors of opportunity, but also one that strikes at the heart of our nation’s economic competitiveness.
Our businesses rely on our higher education system to provide the pipeline of talent we need to compete globally. These companies know, through decades of experience, that students who are exposed to others from diverse backgrounds make for better workers. These benefits accrue regardless of the student's race. Diversity in our workforce is vital to getting our economy get back on its feet and crucial to the success of American enterprises as our international business grows.
I wholeheartedly believe that when a student's race is considered, it must be done in a careful and thoughtful way. Let us hope, for the sake of our nation's economic health, that the Supreme Court continues to let universities determine their own admissions criteria.
Honda is the representative of Silicon Valley and member of the House Budget and Appropriations Committees.